OIL: Facing a Powerful Cartel

ONLY seven months ago, the world's 23 largest oil companies signed the last of a series of agreements that will give the chief oil-exporting nations an extra $25 billion over the next five years. In return for that staggering raise, officials of the producing nations promised not to demand any more money during the life of the contracts, raising hopes that the world's basic fuel would maintain fairly stable prices for the next half-decade. Yet last week both sides went back to the bargaining table. Although they disbanded temporarily without reaching any...

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